How to responsibly choose a B-BBEE partner for real transformation

President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “There will come a time when we will no longer need to talk about the need for a policy on transformation The practices promoted by the Codes will become accepted norms for doing business in our country.” A statement that encapsulated much of the original internet behind the B-BBEE codes.

But for now, the vast business community and the social sector are joining hands to implement the Codes to achieve this vision. While you can choose from many different partners when implementing the Codes in your business, there are distinct advantages to joining hands with the social sector. When partnering with a social enterprise it’s a typically more stable and risk-diversified solution, as well as offering the benefit of a tax deduction alongside your B-BBEE Scorecard points. A double win for your budget, while boosting the impact of your social sector partner.  

Learn to Earn is a social enterprise that has done the hard work of understanding, implementing, and leveraging the B-BBEE codes. You can check out their B-BBEE synergies here.

Aleks Jablonska, Learn to Earn’s Resource & Partnership Development Manager, lays out the critical elements required to make a B-BBEE partnership work. Aleks, and Learn to Earn, have many years’ experience and knowledge of the B-BBEE codes as well as partnering with the corporate sector to achieve genuine transformation while earning much-needed B-BBEE certification.

If you’re looking for a way to meaningfully implement the B-BBEE codes for true economic inclusion, be sure to put these elements into practice:

  1. Get the order right:
    When you’re racking up points for your B-BBEE scorecard it’s easy to get lost in the specifics of what is required and the piles of paperwork. In other words, your compliance starts leading the way. Rather, Aleks encourages businesses (and non profits) to first set your principles and philosophy in order. It’s more than due diligence – it’s doing the research, asking the right questions, and remining focused on what really matters for your businesses social impact goals.

    Remember that the spirit of any legislation is key! The B-BBEE codes are about transformation, empowerment, redress of inequalities – born out of the need to rectify the economic wrongs of the past (AND present). Settle the philosophy behind your B-BBEE giving and budget so that you can decide, with confidence, who to partner with. It’ll result in stronger partnerships and greater impact.

    These pertinent questions put forward by Aleks will help you find alignment with an implementing partner, without losing sight of your principles or compromising on compliance:

    1. “If it wasn’t for the B-BBEE scorecard pressure – would we still want to partner with this organization? What do they stand for? What is their track record?”
    2. Then going deeper still: “how does the above align with the spirit or the underlying intention of B-BBEE?” 

  2. Compliance:
    When you’ve got your strategy in place, you can get to work on the compliance requirements. As a business, speak to your B-BBEE Consultants to fully understand what paperwork is required and compile your templates and other partnership documents for easy access. This will create smoother processes when implementing your B-BBEE grants with partners. It will also reduce the headaches and panic when it comes to verification season.

    Aleks concedes that “the legal nuances of the B-BBEE legislation, industry-specific obligations and scorecard formulas/calculations are definitely NOT for the fainthearted!” She encourages businesses and non profits alike to do their research when choosing a verification agency. The industry is booming and there are lots to choose from. You want to find one that is contributing positively to the development sector and the broader transformation objectives. Avoid those that are just in it for the money. A good verification agency will guide you in gathering the right paperwork, and won’t require unnecessary and expensive documents from a non profit partner (or your business).

  3. Plan ahead:
    If you’ve settled your strategy and compiled your paperwork, then you can get on with the important task of implementing and bringing real transformation. With a plan in place, you will steer clear of eleventh-hour transactions which drown non profit partners and your team in stress.

    And, as far as possible, avoid “” requests for paperwork from your non profit partner, especially if these need to be commissioned before their submission. Getting a commissioned affidavit signed by a senior organizational representative at an under-resourced local police station does not happen instantly – and often ends up putting unnecessary pressure and additional strain on both the developmental sector and on state resources.

It takes time, due diligence, and real partnership to do more than just tick a box on a scorecard. But when you tick those boxes knowing you’ve put the effort in to achieve real transformation, you’ll enjoy the benefits of your B-BEEE status even more.


If you’re new to the B-BBEE codes and would like to find out more about the Why and How of B-BBEE, download Nation Builder’s free BEE Basics Guide here